We barely broke sweat against Sunderland, but I think that tells you more about them than us. It was a more than competent display but still we demonstrated some frustrating traits which eventually could cost us dear in the long run.
Anyone looking at United’s goals scored column will know that they don’t let up until that final whistle has sounded, where as we decided to try and play keep ball in the midfield with 15 minutes to go – much to the frustration of not just the supporters, but one Fernando Torres too.
The body language is now very different to last season – the head is down – the hands are on the hips when a teammate chooses to take a ridiculous pot shot rather than pass to him – the features look exasperated as he waves his arms in vain to alert his availability and space.
He is also not really being helped by the manager – wouldn’t it have made sense to allow him some time on the pitch with Mata? I fear for his future now when I was previously so confident that he was going to make the grade this year. Rumours, like vultures, are already are circulating that he could be off for a loan deal to Real Madrid in January – even Tottenham are punting a scenario of a swap with Modric – I hope someone has already communicated the hell freezing over scenario to Levy.
To be honest, he cut a rather forlorn figure when he came on at the weekend and reports of ill-advised comments about his team mates to the Spanish press won’t help his cause much. Equally unwanted are the comparisons being drawn between his signing and that of Shevchenko – allegedly another Abramovich vanity buy – is it too hopeful to pray that the owner has finally learnt his lesson?
It will certainly be interesting to see what team AVB puts out for United on Sunday – but whoever makes up the starting eleven I still fear that this game could have come a few weeks early in the season as far as we are concerned. All the new faces are playing well but there isn’t that fluidity you get from a team familiar and comfortable with each other. But some individual performances gave me cause for a little hope.
Daniel Sturridge is certainly a confident young man very certain of his talent and he scored a beautiful goal – hopefully his suspension at the beginning of the season has made him even more eager to prove his talent. He showed his inexperience at times off the ball, but that will improve with match time.
At the other end of the age scale John Terry demonstrated when experience can give you – inch perfect tackling in potentially game turning positions. He may not be quick, but speed was never really an integral part of his game.
Meireles made more than a satisfactory start to his Chelsea career. Not having seen much of him previously, I read a few Liverpool forums to get the general opinion on him. In the main, most reds were sorry to see him go but I was worried by a few comments on his lack of bottle in the challange. However, he most certainly did not pull out of any tackles, was actively involved in everything and early opinions seem agreed that he looks a useful addition to the squad – but the hair will have to go!
Mata too looks the business although I think it will take him a little while to get used to the constant speed of the premiership – he looked absolutely knackered when he came off after 75 minutes but we instantly looked the poorer for his departure. It’s staggering really that in two games he seems to have established himself as the heart beat of the team – almost everything went through him and he beautifully orchestrated our play. If he continues in this vein he could be the steal of the season.
But, as a team, are we ready to face a rampant United – I’m not sure. As always, it’s the speed I’m worried about and the distinct possibility that Rooney has not restricted himself to a hair transplant – has anyone checked to see if Pele still has his feet?
No need to panic just yet though – we started like a train last season and many thought we’d have the Premiership in the bag by February and we all know what happened. Equally the season before that, most didn’t give us a hope and we went and won the double.
I am yet to see any real vision from AVB as a manager yet – perhaps he needed the influx of the new players to properly manifest his tactics on the pitch – well there has been considerable outlay now and one would imagine that he has the neucleus of the team he was looking for; so now he has to demonstrate his skill and make this collection of players into a team with a finely drilled formula for winning matches – easy eh?
What with the Premiership, the Champions League and the Carling Cup, the games will be coming thick and fast now so there should be ample opportunity for everyone to stake their claim. As for AVB – the spotlight is as much on him as the players and he cannot afford sentiment to dictate anything – could be some difficult decisions to be made & quickly too – he could do worse than look at his opposite number this weekend on tips on being ruthless – he will be the first to tell you that you don’t win trophies with reputations….